The Best Corvallis Museums and Other Fun Indoor Things to Do

Guests sometimes ask us about things to do in Corvallis. Whether you are visiting for business, to see family, or are touring Oregon State University you want to make the most of your time. Benton County and the Willamette Valley are both a haven for indoor and outdoor activities.

People who love outdoor recreation such as hiking, floating the river, and cycling enjoy the Willamette Valley’s mild climate and scenic views. Corvallis parks are well-maintained and accessible through an extensive network of cycling and multi-use trails. Other people enjoy wine tasting and tours of wineries in Willamette Valley.  However, sometimes people seek fun things to do indoors during rainy days.

Corvallis and nearby cities have museums and galleries that are a nice way to pass the time indoors while getting to know the community. These inexpensive or free activities are also kid and family-friendly.

The Philomath Museum

The Philomath Museum. Photo courtesy Benton County Historical Society

Corvallis and Nearby Museums

Given these uncertain times, be sure to visit the attraction’s website for the current opening hours, masking policies, and prices.

The Corvallis Museum

The Corvallis Museum features highlights from Corvallis, Benton County, and Oregon State University history. Much of the collection comes from the former Horner Museum collection which informed and delighted generations since its founding in 1925 until it closed in 1995. Many local residents considered visiting eight-foot-tall “Bruce the Moose” a childhood rite of passage. The museum is The Benton County Historical Society 

  • Open Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm
  • Admission: $5 for non-members. Free to members, youth 18 and under, and OSU & Linn-Benton CC students with a valid ID.
  • Address: 411 SW 2nd St., Downton Corvallis

To learn more, go to their visitor’s information page. Bonus activity: The museum is located downtown, near Riverfront Park. Visiting the park or unique local stores like The Toy Factory. Restaurants like Common Fields, Bodhi Cafe and Bakery, or Del Alma are conveniently close.

The Corvallis Museum - one of the top educational things to do indoors in downtown Corvallis.

The Corvallis Museum in downtown Corvallis. Photo courtesy Jeremy Bittermann/JBSA

The Philomath Museum

Corvallis’ neighbor Philomath has an interesting place in Oregon history. The city’s name is a fusion of Philosophy and Mathematics paying homage to its history as the home to two colleges in the 1800s. The BCHS Philomath Museum’s building was originally the Philomath College building.

This museum features traveling exhibitions as well as the museum’s own collection of items from Philomath, Benton County, and Oregon’s history. They also feature art exhibitions regularly.

  • Open: Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm
  • Admission: Free, but donations are welcome
  • Address: 1101 Main Street, Philomath

To learn more, go to their visitor’s information page. Bonus activity: Visit local shoe minimal manufacturers Soft Star Shoes or dine at the gluten-free Barbeque restaurant Eats and Treats Cafe, The Dizzy Hen, or farm-to-table restaurant Gathering Together Farm. 

Historic Carousel and Museum

The highlight of the Historic Carousel and Museum is a working menagerie-style carousel. Each animal was designed, hand-carved, and painted by artists, local woodworking artisans, and volunteers. It is a highly sought-after destination for family photos, memories and indoor fun. This is one of the area’s top things to do indoors for children and the young at heart.

In addition to riding the carousel, visitors may tour the small museum and carving room where you may catch a peek at carvers or painters at work. History buffs may enjoy the 1909 Dentzel Carousel Corporation mechanism which was donated to the project.

  • Open: Wednesdays – Sundays 11 am – 4 pm (other than holidays)
  • Admission: Tours and museum Free, Carousel Rides $2
  • Address: 503 First Ave West, Albany

To learn more including seasonal hours and current mask policy, visit their visitor’s guide. Bonus Activity: The Historic Carousel Museum is in Historic downtown Albany and near Monteith River Park. Nearby restaurants include Sweet Red Bistro, Gamberettis, and First Burger.

historic indoor carousel near Corvallis in Albany

The Albany Carousel in downtown Albany near Corvallis.

Albany Regional Museum

American history buffs are sometimes surprised to learn of Albany, Oregon’s role during the dawn of the Atomic Age. The Albany Regional Museum showcases that as well as Albany’s logging and industrial roots. Other exhibits shed light on the way of life in the 1920s-1940s including a vintage kitchen and a lifesize model of a 1930’s shoeshine business owned by local African American entrepreneurs Rufus and Bessie Hale.

  • Open: Monday – Friday 11 am – 4 pm, Saturday 10 am – 2 pm (other than holidays)
  • Admission: Adults $2, Families $5, Kids 10-18 $1, under 10 Free.
  • Address: 136 Lyon Street S., Albany

To learn more including seasonal hours and current mask policy, visit their visitor’s guide. Bonus Activity: The Albany Regional Museum is within walking distance or an easy drive to the Historic Carousel Museum. Nearby restaurants include Sweet Red Bistro, Gamberettis, and First Burger.

Cultural Activities and Entertainment in Corvallis

The following list contains other Corvallis cultural activities. The list isn’t exhaustive, please check the venue as prices and schedules change.

  • The Whiteside Theatre – Community members rallied to purchase and restore the 1922 movie house with Italian Renaissance-style architecture. Currently, it’s a venue for cult films, concerts, and other events.
  • The Majestic Theatre – Built in 1913, the Majestic was originally a vaudeville house and is now home to a local civic theater and a venue for touring shows as well.
  • The Arts Center – Located on the edge of Central Park the Arts Center hosts rotating art exhibits featuring local, regional, and national artists. It also serves as a hub for the local art community and has a boutique selling locally made artisan items.
  • LaSells Stewart Center – A gallery, performing arts, and conference venue located in the Oregon State University campus. Events include guest speaker lectures, Corvallis-OSU Symphony Orchestra as well as other jazz, folk, classical, or rock music artists.
  • The Darkside Cinema – An independent cinema located in downtown Corvallis with a homey atmosphere.

Choosing the Corvallis Guest House Experience

The name Corvallis indicates that the city is in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Due to its central location, Corvallis is conveniently close to other Willamette Valley cities, the central Oregon coast, and outdoor recreation destinations. Staying in a Corvallis guest house is the best way to enjoy all that this area has to offer.

Our affordable and immaculately clean vacation houses are stand-alone homes in Corvallis’ best residential neighborhoods. Enjoy privacy while also enjoying amenities like a self-serve breakfast, quality organic coffee and tea, your own outdoor space with working gas grills, and golfing privileges at the Corvallis Club.

Visit our booking page to learn which guest houses are available during your next visit to Corvallis, Oregon, or the Willamette Valley.